Overall leader Alexander Kristoff scored the stage win he’d been hunting Thursday in the first half of a Three Days of De Panne doubleheader. Kristoff (Katusha) topped Andrè Schulze (NetApp) and Kenny Van Hummel (Vacansoleil-DCM) in a bunch sprint and enters this afternoon’s stage 3b time trial with a six-second advantage over Jacopo Guarnieri (Astana) and seven seconds over Maciej Bodnar (Liquigas-Cannondale).
The closest time trial specialists in the general classification are Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil), Jesse Sergent (RadioShack-Nissan), and Luke Durbridge and Svein Tuft (GreenEdge), at 12 seconds.
“First of all I’d like to thank all the team,” said Kristoff. “They were great during the whole stage, keeping it under control in the first part and imposing our pace in the final, especially with [Denis] Galimzyanov. He’s a great sprinter but today he helped me; that means our team spirit is really high. I was able to preserve my energies for the final sprint. I’m very happy with this victory, my first with Katusha, after getting close in the last days. My shape is improving, I feel very strong. I’ll try to do my best this afternoon in the ITT, even if I’m not a specialist.”